Vesti becomes fourth member of Mercedes’ junior programme

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In the round-up: Mercedes has announced 19-year-old Frederik Vesti as the newest addition to its growing roster of young talent.

Mercedes add Vesti to young driver line-up

Vesti won the 2019 Formula Regional European Championship and came fourth in FIA F3 last year, winning races at the Red Bull Ring, Monza and Mugello.

He joins Kimi Antonelli, Alex Powell and Paul Aron as the drivers Mercedes are supporting through junior ranks. The team also manages the careers of George Russell and Esteban Ocon, although both are separately contracted to their respective Williams and Alpine F1 teams.

Vesti said joining the world champions “is a massive boost for my career and I am really looking forward to building a powerful relationship in the future.”

He thanked Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff for his backing. “I admire Mercedes so much for their mentality and their hard-working attitude, which has helped them become so successful. They choose their junior drivers very carefully, so I am really excited to be part of the programme, working with them and developing as a driver. Thank you to Toto and the team for their trust in me and my future.”

The team’s driver development advisor Gwen Lagrue said they recognised Vesti’s “commitment and dedication” to his racing career.

“I remember him sending me updates on his debut seasons in single seaters and letting us know details of his progress, which is something we always appreciate. His Formula Regional European championship in 2019 was impressive and in FIA F3 last year, he was very consistent.”

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Comment of the day

Is motorsport nepotistic by design or does it just tend to run in families? Gavin Campbell says it’s not that you have to be related to someone to get there, but it helps…

There’s a couple of reasons for this outside of pure budget that does tally with other sports.

Firstly in dangerous sports you tend to see lineage playing a part – very often in motorsport (two and four wheels), rugby, boxing and I’d assume American football. This is because the danger aspect is baked into acceptance – a sort of “I did this all my young life so its fine if my son/daughter wants do the same”.

Also the trend in F1 drivers has been over the past 15 years or so has been starting younger and younger. This requires them to start exceptionally young so they increasingly come from ‘motorsport families’.

Furthermore its a truly individual sport – there’s no signing up kids to a club that have matches (or races in this case) and scouts who pick up the best into junior programs like football or other team sports. Its quite unique in the sense of requiring quite a lot of self starting and organising versus other sports (even tennis, athletics etc. you start off at a local club where a lot is provided for you by members such as coaching, equipment etc.)

So many of the F1 drivers today are sons of former drivers, team personnel, enthusiasts (i.e. gentlemen drivers and mega fans)

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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  • 18 comments on “Vesti becomes fourth member of Mercedes’ junior programme”

    1. Paretta, everything she said is fine except the part where she states her goal of having an all women team running the car. Pushing 50% of the globe towards racing is a lofty goal, and I reckon she will inspire people, but nobody thinks it is fair to partner Penske and hire men with the goal of dismissing all of them once Paretta has enough qualified women to run the car (hopefully it includes pitcrew). If Paretta wants to go there at least go there from the start. I’m rooting for Paretta but it does not sound right.

      1. I think it’s fair in the larger outcome. Until there is equality in motorsport there needs to be equity in motorsport and that means providing more to those who have been underserved thus far. If that means an all woman team is created from a mixed gender team, I am ok with that given the historical lack of opportunity for women.

        1. @g-funk It’s not fair. If I was a man working for them today I’d be looking to quit ASAP on my own terms without waiting for them to fire me and potentially get me and my family stranded. If I was a man looking for a place on the team right now I’d refuse the offer because it’s an offer without a shred of job security. So that way they get no team at all. Great strategy!

      2. As it’s a new team that will only receive technical support from Penske, Paretta’s aim is to hire women in the first place – not to form a team that is then replaced. It’s definitely a great way to encourage women to apply to work with you to say that you are interested in hiring them.

        1. So much censorship…

          1. No; you personally disagree with diversity initiatives, which does not make them factually bad.

            1. @hazelsouthwell

              Paretta’s aim is to hire women in the first place – not to form a team that is then replaced.

              I watched the whole video, I did not infer that. Anything other than that would not be news in Indycar. Women as owners is not new nor drivers.

            2. @hazelsouthwell

              We could have an discussion about this…oh no we can’t, because you remove my posts.

              Apparently you are incapable of countering my argument, so you just remove them.

          2. @aapje I have removed your posts where you de facto referred to diversity initiatives as prejudice, which is not debate.

            1. @hazelsouthwell

              You are the one with is conflating diversity initiatives with prejudicial policies, like conflating hiring people because of their gender with saying that you also want to hire women.

    2. Vesti actually said no to Red Bull Academy last year. So an exciting talent for the future – but need to win the F3 next year for ART.

    3. To be more precise, the management link is about the only one left for Ocon. Nothing other than this. He was essentially let go to make joining Renault full-time possible. He once had a chance before Mercedes opted to keep Bottas. Losing out at that time more or less decided his faith for the future because of Russell’s presence.

      For sure, the Monaco GP is on until it isn’t, nothing for now, but what happens later is another matter. The build-up process usually commences around mid-March or past it, but this year, later February because of the Historic event scheduling four weeks before the Monaco GP, so over a month until the ultimate decision deadline. Monaco, of course, needs spectator attendance for the same reason as the other full temporary tracks. This thing will also determine its fate for this year.

      1. @jerejj
        Monaco isn’t quite in the same position as other street tracks though. Their hosting fee is far lower than those of the other races (although we don’t know exactly how low it is), which can make quite a difference, compared to places like Baku or Singapore.
        Basically this means that, for the most part, they just need to cover the costs of the build-up work, which makes them less dependent on audience attendance than the tracks mentioned above.

        I also found this article (I mean I googled for F1 hosting fees and this one showed up first 😅) about the costs of hosting a GP, which was very interesting. Even though it was published almost four years ago, I think it’s still accurate.

        https://www.forbes.com/sites/csylt/2017/03/13/the-1-billion-cost-of-hosting-an-f1-race/amp/

        1. @srga91 Fair enough. Monaco doesn’t pay any hosting fee actually according to the general knowledge/understand. I’ve taken this into account, but I didn’t think it’d necessarily make a meaningful difference in this regard.

    4. Let their skillsets be the measure by which they are judged. If you got it, you got it. If not it’s obvious. This sport has a way of separating pretenders from professionals. Your ability should be what you are judged by. As the talent grows the results should reflect this. Also factor in how experience shapes those results. I’m in favor of allowing talent to develop regardless of age. This gives the hopeful a fair chance to grow into better rides. Many consider money as important as talent. I happen to feel sick when money prevents a possibly better driver from advancing. Those in Dough Know. If you have the talent instead of the money then that should become obvious who is a true driver. But money opens doors that wrongly open. But you have to accept it that money talks and talent is good to have but money affords opportunity.
      I admire talented drivers whose ability was seen as being more valuable than having fat wallets. But fat wallets are needed too.
      I guess we then have to accept that money may beat talents six days out of every week.
      Just look at HAM.
      Mercedes understands what the image Lewis brings to racing, a dream for sub teens to lament. Paying Lewis for the image as a hook to future investors who someday will buy the company product.
      Today Lewis is already doing this while becoming a pretty good driver himself. Haha. It’s like drugs. A “line” has been offered to the very young today for the hope of tomorrow’s business all from the image of an almost great driver. I say the greatest of all time, which is FACT but many who write here seem to not be able to accept what he did, what he has done and what he will become.
      So as I started off with, develop your skillsets and with or without money come prepared to race on race day. If you got it you will be noticed. Like back in 2008.

    5. Happy birthday to all the folks and to Jolyon Palmer too who turned out to be an excellent F1 analyst. Happy birthday to Marco Simoncelli who could have turned 34 today. He may rest in peace.

    6. I thought Ocon wasn’t connected to Mercedes after getting a Renault drive.
      By the way, let’s see how Vesti will develop.

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